Mountain climbing can be an adventurous and fun sport. But not when it goes wrong. Touching the Void documents the story of two climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates on a disastrous climb in the Andes in 1985. Through the climbers stories and reenactments the viewer sees the horrors that Simpson and Yates had to go through. Just when you think they are in the clear it gets worse. Truly a magnificent story that needs to be shared.
‘Touching the void’ is a documentary film made by Kevin MacDonald, shown at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival. It features Brendan Mackey as Simpson and Nicholas Aaron as Yates, enacting the climb and descent of the two adventurous mountaineers on the west face of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.
These daring and experienced mountaineers climbed the mountain without setting up ropes or base camps ahead of time. Though they had to tackle a snowstorm and some treacherous climbing, they safely reached the summit in three days after scaling about 21,000 feet.
But that was not it; the climb down turned to be more complicated and fiercely tested their nerve. Simpson broke his leg badly after falling down at a crucial juncture. Yates decided to try to lower Simpson down the mountain, one 300-foot section of rope at a time. What added to the woes of these steely mountaineers was the fact that they had run out of gas to melt snow making them unable to stop as night came, when unfortunately a violent snowstorm began. Their plodding, excruciatingly painful journey hit a hurdle when Yates accidentally lowered Simpson over the edge of a cliff.
They couldn’t hear each other’s cries in the raging storm, and, Yates, uncertain as to Simpson’s position, and gradually sliding down the slope himself, had to cut the rope that connected them, sending Simpson plummeting to a certain fatal end. Quite astonishingly Simpson survived the fall, and was faced with the greater challenge of getting off the mountain alone with no food, no water, and a broken leg